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Is Obesity (or Gluttony) Immoral?

 
 
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 10:08 pm
I was wondering how many people believe that gluttony, defined as "habitually eating to excess", is immoral behaviour -?

Doesn't such habits lead to a sloppy and undisciplined society?

It would seem to me that our collective refusal to insist upon self-restraint and moderation hurts precisely those individuals who are prone to obesity, the majority of whom will die prematurely of heart disease and the like.

The poor and undereducated are, of course, the ones who suffer most from the immoral elites who refuse to apply the minimal standards of basic human decency to the society as a whole.

As long as the poor and uneducated people continue to follow the general permissiveness that is de rigour among the attitudes of the liberal elites (think The New York Times crowd), then they will suffer disproportionately.

Let us revolt by discovering genuine virtue.
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Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 10:26 pm
@Pythagorean,
Morality and immorality require a bit of reflection on the part of the acting agent in order for us to pass judgment. And in all my career in health care I've yet to meet an obese patient whom I'd call "gluttonous". Indeed there is an abnormal relationship with food in many cases -- but gluttony? Donald Trump is gluttonous. Obese people have a problem with willpower, self-awareness, and self-actualization. That's a big difference.
0 Replies
 
Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 11:08 pm
@Pythagorean,
I tend to agree with what Aedes has said. I think many obese people suffer from other issues, and in effect, 'self-medicate' with food. People become addicted to certain pleasures because they are trying to make up for something that they feel they are deficient in. Then there are probably some obese people who just really, really like food. So, I don't think many of these people are gluttonous or immoral, but they are probably in need of some understanding and help instead. Even if their lifestyles could be considered immoral, the issue of their immorality pales in comparison to all of the other blatant examples of immoral behavior that we now face in our society.

Also, I can't really agree with your line of reasoning where the 'educated elites' need to step in and take care of the 'poor and uneducated' masses. This type of thinking is elitist and authoritarian...'big brother knows what's best for you, obey'. If what you are proposing is some type of law to limit the amount of food that people are ingesting, I would claim that this authoritative mindset is much more 'immoral' than one where people are free to eat excessively.
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Sep, 2009 11:34 pm
@Pythagorean,
I agree with aedes in a way. I know for a majority of Americans they are incredibly ignorant when it comes to diet. 90% of the stuff sold in supermarkets or restaurants you should NEVER eat. American's are not fat because they are greedy about food, they are fat because the food sold to them lacks nutrition. When you starve your body of nutrition you tend to over eat as an attempt to acquire the nutrients the body wants.

I only eat once a day because I eat healthy. I eliminate as much sugar and preservatives from my diet as possible. I try to avoid anything that is "processed". The more a food is processed generally the worse it is for you to consume. You might call that boring or unfun but I see it as a health preventive measure. I don't have any statistics and I know it is wrong to speculate but I feel that the increase in diabetes in children is directly related to how much sugar is in the drinks they consume. Soda, fruit drinks, sport drinks, all contain high fructose cornsyrup and in my opinion should never be consumed. But then again I am not a dietitian or doctor, what do I know?

EDIT: I should also add that mostly it is not their fault that they eat so poorly. When you have adds plastered all over the place for cheap and quick fast food. (food that lacks any nutrition what-so-ever) It is not surprising that there are so many fat Americans.
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Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 12:08 am
@Pythagorean,
A physics professor I was watching said that today's obesity problem is due to food, for the first time in history, being both "incredibly delicious and incredibly cheap". This might be it.

Having a 'sweet tooth' is an evolved instinct. So is craving the taste of salt, and fatty (caloric) foods. The big snack and drink companies know this, and so they sell us bottles of sugar water, and bags of chips and other snacks that taste of nothing but large quantities of sodium.

Given the 'high standard of living' we in the west all now have (meaning the amount of stuff we can buy in respect to time spent working), and the low cost of fast food, it's a miracle we aren't all obese. It's pretty hard to resist the evolved drive for sugar at the price of $1 for a huge 2-liter bottle of it. The problem is that these drives evolved for hunting and gathering (the means by which humans thrived for over 90% of their existence). In those days, sugary tastes meant whole fruits complete with fiber and antioxidants, not corn syrup mixed with artificial flavorings in a bottle.

The way these products are being marketed to kids is unfortunate. Elementary schools all have contracts with Coke or Pepsi for vending machines that get them hooked on high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks at a very young age. No wonder, after a decade of sucking the stuff down for lunch every day at school, that they're all hooked. The future just might be similar to the way it's depicted in that movie "idiocracy", where we succumb to corporate pressure and start using gatorade to water all of the crops, thus killing them, and end up starving ourselves. Or maybe it's not quite that bleak...:listening:
Pythagorean
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 02:18 am
@Pangloss,
I am very sad to hear those comments.

Moral judgement is precisely needed here and certainly not more "therapy" or self-discovery. If you want self-discovery I would urge you to learn Latin.

It is simply wrong to continuously overeat. But what is worse is to live in a society that is so ignorant of the notion of virtue.

It reminds me of the fact that Americans no longer make their own clothes or make anything that is required for basic living anymore. There is a huge disconnect between the requirements of civil society and the silly mindset of Americans.

And if I had to guess I would bet that none of you are even aware that our society is collapsing economically. Well, let me just say that the coming collapse is directly related to the loss of virtue among the people generally, and I cannot imagine a more personal example of the lack of virtue than people's conclusion that overeating on this scale is not a clear case of immorality.

Individuals who overeat on this scale need to be told by writers, journalists, doctors, educators and politicians that what they are doing is slothful and inexcusable. They need to be persuaded by moral argument to moderation just as much as the government just now needs to be persuaded by moral argument not to spend trillions of dolars that it doesn't have and can never pay back. There is a direct relationship between the two, historically and morally.

It is simply astonishing to me that no one understands, let alone desires, virtue. Trying to talk about virtue here is like trying to talk about love: no one is even aware of its' existence.
0 Replies
 
josh0335
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:15 am
@Pythagorean,
I'm with Pythagorean on this one, in a general sense. I remember when I stopped boxing I piled on the weight simply becausing I was eating too much of the wrong foods. It was immorality in the sense that I am a Muslim which teaches never to over-eat. How this would be applied to people who do not hold a particular standard of morality, I don't know.
Mel phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 08:34 am
@josh0335,
So what - if it is immoral? Pornography may be considered by some to be immoral ... where are these morality police anyway?

(How much food is too much btw? Does your weight have to be in excess of x kgs for the measure to apply ... or can you be gluttonous at a single sitting? What about gluttony in other aspects of life - e.g. material possession ; success; opinion?)

It is surely usefull to apply this kind of thinking introspectively but there doesn't really seem to be any pragmatic point to speaking of societal morality at this level - unless it just to label. In which case 'immoral' works simply to place one comfortably on the 'right' side of virtue. (and that is an exercise in pointless)
0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 08:42 am
@Pythagorean,
I think that some people who over eat are obviously running along the same lines as drug addiction, it's reaching out to something when things are not going right, isn't it?

---------- Post added 09-16-2009 at 09:42 AM ----------

So is it a question of morals?
0 Replies
 
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 09:28 am
@Pythagorean,
Obesity and gluttony are not at all the same thing.

Obesity is largely a result of sedative lifestyles combined with highly-processed foods which the body cannot metabolize properly. These two things are, of course, a result of capitalism.
William
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 01:26 pm
@Pythagorean,
IMO, pangloss nailed it right square on the head. It is something the individual is lacking. and the sad part is they don't have a clue to what it is. It's like anything that can be attributed to "over-indulgence". It's the mind/body trying like hell to achieve a balance. It has absolutely nothing to do with ones "conscious" effort to over-indulge; it is totally unconscious. If you take all the people on the planet earth and weigh them and divide it by the number of people, you will get our ideal weight as it relates to the resources we have to nourish those people. I have a feeling it is spot on accurate to the most infinite degree. Now if we all weighed the same, it would indicate a "perfect balance" and we would eat no more than we need to eat to sustain ourselves. That's it in a nutshell. We couldn't eat an ounce more even if we wanted to and the great thing about that is we wouldn't want to.

As I said in another post responding to what Justin offered, if you are exercising and eating right, you are keeping me alive and taking care of me and helping me reach that balance too. Yes, I am overweight, but I am as healthy as you, thanks to you and the sacrifice you are making in sweating like you do and working as hard as you do and eating the right food that you do. Then we all feel better. The Universe will maintain it's balance and there is not a damn thing we can do about it unless we strive to reach that balance collectively and balancing all the scales.

Now here I am an individual who has lived most of his life "lacking" something. Now I have talented "taste buds" and am a fantastic cook and I can prepare for you a dish that will make you want more, I guarantee it. Now my taste buds are over active because something is missing in that other imput my other sense are feeding me. I can make the food look, taste and smell delicious and it will be extremely hard for you to resist and you will have to make yourself resist to maintain your balance that is keeping me alive who is making that food that is so tempting to you.

Now if we were all in balance, we would together, create a diet this is nutritious for "all" of us and we would only eat what we need, not what we are enticed to eat. Now when we do that the body turns the food into pure energy and there is no more "waste" as we evolve to a point to were we will no longer need that waste orifice. Yet we will all need the other that expel's that fluid among it's other most important functions that cannot be eliminated. Thank goodness! Ha, I don't want to even imagine that but it could happen somewhere in our future. I guess we will just have to wait and see. What ever it is, is will come by naturally as the universe maintains it's balance.

William
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Pangloss
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 02:11 pm
@Pythagorean,
William, you made some good points, and the idea of a person being 'out of balance' is very old and definitely has truth to it.

Caroline is also right to compare food addiction to drug addiction; excessive eating could be seen as a milder form of chemical addiction.

In addition to our evolved body rewarding us with pleasant tastes when we eat, the brain also rewards us with the release of certain pleasurable neurotransmitters, such as dopamine. This is similar to the chemical 'reward' that drug abusers chase when they chain smoke or use cocaine.

I would also not say the drug abuser is immoral for using drugs, though some of his actions that are inspired by the drug abuse could be immoral. Chemical addictions are, like William said, something that is driven by the subconscious. Once it gets to the point of addiction, it is not a conscious decision made, but rather a compulsion which, if left unfulfilled, can trigger an attack of the addict's latent anxiety, depression, or other problems.
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Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 06:48 pm
@Pythagorean,
Virtue and gluttony are comewhat arcane concepts.

They're useful if you want to judge. They're blind if you want to understand and help.

Empathy requires understanding.

And I think everyone would agree that empathy is a virtue.
0 Replies
 
Krumple
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Sep, 2009 07:49 pm
@rhinogrey,
YouTube - Why USA is Fat! America Diet Facts, Nutrition by Natalie
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 01:13 am
@Krumple,
Aedes;90752 wrote:
Virtue and gluttony are comewhat arcane concepts.

They're useful if you want to judge. They're blind if you want to understand and help.


I largely agree with you. But at the same time, those arcane concepts seem to have a great deal of value when judging one's own behavior, you know? To read of the symptoms and ills of gluttony, recognize them within your own habits.

And when you can see your own errors, isn't easier to understand others with similar problems? And if you have had some success in dealing with your own problems, perhaps it would also be easier to help others?

Aedes;90752 wrote:
Empathy requires understanding.

And I think everyone would agree that empathy is a virtue.


There's probably not a more important virtue.
Aedes
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 03:44 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas;90801 wrote:
I largely agree with you. But at the same time, those arcane concepts seem to have a great deal of value when judging one's own behavior, you know?
Well, I think that judging one's self as virtuous is a bit megalomaniac, and judging one's self as gluttonous is a bit self-defeating. But either way, the OP was about passing judgment on fat people...

Didymos Thomas;90801 wrote:
There's probably not a more important virtue.
Yup, totally agree.
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Pythagorean
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 03:44 am
@Didymos Thomas,
These levels of obesity on such a vast scale as we are witnessing in America today are a sure sign of societal decay.

The entire health care system in America is slowly collapsing, will most certainly collapse soon, in part because of this overeating.

Like the late Roman empire we are in the advanced stages of decline. It is grotesque decadence on a scale that was heretofore unseen. We have outdone those old Romans.

Our society is collapsing, in my opinion, and no one seems to be very much concerned.

Civil society, that 'arcane concept', has basically died; its fabric has been torn assunder. And they will soon privatize its priviledges. This is the third world model that is coming soon. Unbeknownst to most, this is already well underway in many of our big cities. We are witnessing the institutionalization of fundamental social injustice.

---------- Post added 09-17-2009 at 06:36 AM ----------

Aedes;90809 wrote:
Well, I think that judging one's self as virtuous is a bit megalomaniac, and judging one's self as gluttonous is a bit self-defeating. But either way, the OP was about passing judgment on fat people...



No one here has stated they were virtuous, I only stated my desires to be so.

And how can empathy be a good thing to you Paul, if it is a virtue? You are contradicting yourself.

I wouldn't suggest that we condemn individual 'fat' people. That would indeed be self-defeating. We need to teach eachother that overeating is a bad thing. It is a way to prevent individuals from being unhealthy and unattractive. Such moral condemnation is obviously done in the service of those who are obese and those who are prone to obesity. Why else would it be done? -Of course there is empathy contained in moral condemnation.

You are full of your snide comments but the way I see it you don't really care whether people are obese or not, you only care how they feel.

I see many doctors working in level one trauma centers, and I see many police officers working in the big cities and most of them are very professional indeed. But they can't put their heads together and come up with solutions to solve their respective crises. On that score all of these geniuses can't solve the underlying problems whose symptoms they face everyday.

And that's because people like you instead of stigmatizing bad behaviouir you would stigmatize any attempt at human decency a.k.a. morality. And you put pressure on anyone who dares to be politically incorrect. Everything to you is to be politicized but you don't know the least thing about the difficulties of running a civil society.

Politicization of the issue doesn't address the underlying problem. I morally condemn all of the doctors in all of these emergency rooms and I condemn all of the police officers in all of the large cities and all of the wardens of all these prisons, I condemn them for not having the backbone, the moral fiber to stand up to liberals who believe as you do.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 12:44 pm
@Pythagorean,
Aedes;90809 wrote:
Well, I think that judging one's self as virtuous is a bit megalomaniac, and judging one's self as gluttonous is a bit self-defeating. But either way, the OP was about passing judgment on fat people...


I mean, well, for example - let us say I am reading the Nichomachean Ethics, reading through Aristotle's explanation of the various virtues and I notice that I have some to a degree, but ultimately fail - this recognition might spur efforts to be a better person...

And if I read on gluttony, and notice at least some of those tendencies in myself, this recognition might spur efforts to temper my gluttonous tendencies and improve myself.

But, yes, to think "oh, how virtuous I am!" is megalomaniacal, and to think "oh, pathetic, gluttonous me... I'm so useless", is self-defeating.

Aedes;90809 wrote:
Yup, totally agree.


Which has always bothered me - where is the respect for empathy in the ancient lists of virtue? Ooooh, reason.... :rolleyes:
0 Replies
 
Caroline
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 02:26 pm
@Pythagorean,
Isn't gluttony the same as greed?

---------- Post added 09-17-2009 at 03:28 PM ----------

Well then yes it is immoral but with food you're only harming yourself where as, say someone else suffers, in my eyes is definately wrong.
0 Replies
 
rhinogrey
 
  1  
Reply Thu 17 Sep, 2009 08:39 pm
@Pythagorean,
You're not only harming yourself, you're contributing to the general excess, over-consumption and resource drainage currently plaguing the Western world, especially America. That doesn't only affect the person who is gaining unnatural weight, it affects everyone who depends on the resources that are being abused.
0 Replies
 
 

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